Monday, 23 March 2020

Golden Child by Claire Adam

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

“His mind goes round and round in circles, confused. He cannot understand how he got to this point. He is quite sure that back at the beginning, when the boys were born, he was determined, above all else, to be a good father. Now, somehow, he has ended up here, and there seems to be no going back.”

Peter and Paul are twins, born on the island of Trinidad. Peter, the elder, is the Golden Child – studious, bright beyond his years. Paul, the younger, suffered complications during birth, was a difficult baby, and is considered ‘slightly retarded’ by his family. A problem child.

So when thirteen year old Paul disappears from home, his father’s first reaction is anger. It’s just Paul, causing trouble, like he always does.

Yet the real trouble lies much deeper, in the secrets, lies and jealousies that twist through the fabric of their extended family. In the end, the father must decide just what he is willing to do to protect his family – and the future of his Golden Child.

This is rural Trinidad in the late twentieth century, a long way from the tourist trails. A place of gang leaders and drug lords, where break-ins and kidnappings are common and where even quite ordinary families keep guard dogs and burglar-proof their houses. But Clyde has kept himself away from all that. He has never bothered with a fancy car or a bigger house. Everything has been for his family, and for Peter.

The story of the Deyalsingh family unfolds slowly, our perspective shifting till, just as we have seen enough to form a full picture, the truth is revealed. We feel the dead weight on the father’s shoulders, the impossibility of shifting the whole direction of his life. And the knowledge that, whatever he chooses, he will have to live with it for the rest of his life.

If the golden child, Peter, remains a bit of a cypher, we slowly become privy to Paul's hopes and dreams. His frustration with the constant feeling of failure. With the way letters refuse to arrange themselves on the page when he tries to read, but instead "look like ants crawling around on the page." With Daddy always being mad. He wants to leave school and get a job, to buy Ray-Ban sunglasses and fluorescent short pants, and "hand Mummy a big wad of cash."

A disturbing, uncomfortable and absorbing first novel. Winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize 2019 and Longlisted for the 2020 Jhalak Prize

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: The Bone Readers by Jacob Ross, Disposable People by Ezekel Alan, What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn

Avoid If You Dislike: Stories of missing children

Perfect Accompaniment: Macaroni pie and a glass of rum

Genre: Literary Fiction, Thriller


Buy This Book Here

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